Breeding a Raptor

In talking to Western Digital, we managed to get a bit of clarification about exactly what technology was borrowed from previous drives in order to maintain the Raptor's lower-than-SCSI price point.

As you know from our original article, the Raptor is a single platter design with an initial capacity of 36GB. The reason Western Digital went for a relatively low capacity for the Raptor is because of the target market (we'll address this more in the next section). With the vast majority of SCSI drives in use in the enterprise market limited to 18 - 36GB size ranges, Western Digital figured a 36GB introductory capacity would make sense. Since there's only one platter in action on the Raptor, there are clear chances to increase capacity simply by moving to more platters, but for the near future you won't see more than a 36GB capacity available.

Western Digital expects 36GB Raptor drives to sell for around $160, compared to $200+ for most 36GB 10,000 RPM SCSI offerings. Where's the 20% lower price coming from?

It's not coming from smaller capacities because we're comparing apples to apples here, and it's definitely not coming from the interface, because implementing a Serial ATA connector vs. a SCSI connector doesn't reduce the overall price of a drive by 20%.

It turns out that Western Digital was able to save a significant amount by reusing the drive electronics from their 7200 RPM Special Edition Caviar drives. A combination of essentially "free" electronics from their Caviar line and a slightly slower actuator assembly than what the fastest SCSI drives use left Western Digital with a SCSI class drive, at a 20 - 30% lower cost.

Index A Raptor Loose in the Enterprise Market
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  • rhinofishing1 - Monday, November 17, 2003 - link

    I have a AOpen AX4SPE-Max Motherboard which has SATA and Raid support. I was thinking about getting 2 of these drives and setting them at Raid 0 for my system drive. I plan on doing a lot of video editing and using a 200GB drive for my A/V content on a regular IDE master channel. Do you see any problems, or have any suggestions with my setup? Thanks in advance...
  • FASE77 - Sunday, November 2, 2003 - link


    I have a WD800JB and WD1200JB, i'm really glad to see the WD1200JB performing too well in the test, the only thing I don’t like about the drive is that it has no heat sensor! unlike my older Seagate Barracuda drive (ST360021A).

    I really hope Western Digital will start embedding heat sensors into their drives soon.
  • mrHand - Thursday, October 30, 2003 - link

    Re: Post on Aug 3, 2003: I have never had a Western Digital drive lose a single bit of my data. Other manufacturers, yes, but not this one.

    I have a WDC1600JB that walks all over this SATA drive (I bought one and tried it out). Anybody had a different experience? It could be a BIOS setting...
  • mrHand - Thursday, October 30, 2003 - link

  • Anonymous User - Monday, August 25, 2003 - link

    Please compare Raptor single drive performance with two Raptors in a Raid 0 configuration. Please compare also with two PATA drives in Raid 0 configuration.

    Is there a problem with excessive heat being generated by these units.

  • Anonymous User - Sunday, August 3, 2003 - link

    But how is the reliablilty going to be, maybe its just me but western digital drives are notorious for being unreliable
  • Anonymous User - Saturday, August 2, 2003 - link

    I have a question about write caches: I have read that many SCSI drives do not by default enable their write caches (enterprise may want safety over performance). Are the two 10K SCSI drives in this article run with their write caches enabled to make the comparison more fair? Given the dramatic increase in the SATA drive's performance with write caching, it could be a significant factor.

    Another comment: WD's drives looks more like the next generation high performance desktop drive, not a low-cost enterprise alternative to SCSI. Perhaps the follow up benchmarks (4 months in the making?) will shed light on this.

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